When I first graduated college, I was struggling. I couldn’t find a full time job, I had huge student loans to pay back, and I didn’t have any idea of what I was going to do.
Translating my college major into a career was not working and I spent over a year and half working at my local Carvel, trying to figure out what my next step was.
I had been told many times that writing was a fickle career that I couldn’t depend on. If I was to be sensible and get myself out of this student loan debt, I needed to find a real job. But as the rejection emails kept pouring in, I couldn’t help but think that maybe it was a sign that I needed to be pursuing what I was truly passionate about – writing.
I’d kept my dreams about being a writer a secret since I was a little girl. There was something so vulnerable about admitting my deepest dreams to others. It felt like something I needed to hold close to myself and protect. For some reason, even though I loved writing and knew I was good at it, I was so self-conscious about letting other people in. Writing was something that brought me happiness and to potentially hear someone’s criticism, I was afraid it would ruin my passion for it.
But at 22 years old, for the first time, I finally felt like I was being pointed down path to a writing career. So I expressed my ideas to my best friend at the time. I told her I was interested in taking a few writing classes or possibly getting my masters in publishing. She was so supportive of getting a publishing degree but when I mentioned the classes could even potentially help me in a career as an author, she turned sour. I still remember the exact, crushing words she said to me.
“Honestly, I can’t see you as a writer.”
The words stung me. She’d never even read my writing, didn’t know that I had folders and folders of saved pieces I had written on my computer, dating back to 3rd grade. But for some reason, suddenly I was insecure. Maybe she was right, maybe I couldn’t do it. She was my best friend, after all. Wouldn’t she of all people know me, possibly even better than I knew myself? If someone that knew me so well didn’t think that I can make it, it was hard not to believe it was a reflection of my capabilities.
This conversation with my friend was my exact fear of expressing my dreams. I was crushed and felt embarrassed for dreaming too big. Not only that, but for allowing someone else to see me dreaming that big when it was a foolish idea.
But it’s not. Did I stop writing because of her criticism? Did the stories that filled my mind constantly suddenly dry up and disappear? No. Someone else’s doubt is not my reality. It’s theirs. And I would be a fool to let someone else’s – anyone else’s – opinion prevent me from going after what I want.
In the end, maybe my ex-friend will be right. And maybe she won’t be. But she’ll always be right about me not making it as a writer, if I never even try to make it as a writer. So I’ve made the decision along this journey to listen to my heart and block out the noise of other people doubting me.
This is my dream, not anyone else’s, and I’m going to let myself be the only one to determine whether I have what it takes or not.
Let me know in a comment below if you’ve gone through anything similar! I’d love to hear everyone’s tips on how to focus on your dream, and ignore the doubt of others!